Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Moments in Love

Yuletide Under the Stars

by Gandalfs_Beard 0 reviews

Following the First Task, preparations are made for the Yule Ball, and Hermione hopes Harry is ready to take their relationship to the next level... Suggestive Themes

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione - Published: 2017-07-22 - 9506 words

Hermione was furious. This should have been a moment to celebrate. Not only had Harry survived, but beyond all expectations, he was the clear winner of the First Task. But Harry was as miserable as could be. As usual, Ron had spoiled everything; this time with an inappropriately timed, much too late, truly pathetic attempt at an apology.

Ron had been absolutely horrible to Harry for nearly a whole month. And really, looking back, there had been warning signs ever since the World Cup. Harry hadn’t really seemed to notice until after the incident with Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express, but Hermione had seen Ron’s many jealous looks at Harry during the Quidditch Final - especially when Harry and Hermione had been greeting Fudge and all of the VIP’s.

And Hermione had felt a bit uncomfortable herself with the way Ron had looked at her at the World Cup, as if recognising that she was a girl for the first time. But Hermione hadn’t wanted to spoil things for Harry and kept it all to herself. And it had been a real strain for Hermione this term, dealing with all of Ron’s constant needling and little digs at her, not to mention his utter insensitivity to the feelings of others.

But really, the straw that broke the camel’s back for Hermione had been Ron accusing Harry of lying, and not standing by Harry when he had needed his friends the most.

As they made their way back to Harry’s private chambers in silence, Hermione tried her best to keep her fury in check for Harry’s sake. The fire was going strong in the hearth by the settee in Harry’s sitting room.

Hermione made them both some cocoa in the little kitchen and found Harry lying dejectedly on the small sofa. Harry began to get up to make room for her.

“It’s alright Harry,” she said, sitting at the very end. “Lie back down - like this... There, that’s better...” Hermione gently stroked Harry’s messy black hair as he nestled his head on her lap, smiling sadly at him.

She could see how much Ron still meant to Harry - how much Harry missed him - how much it had hurt to let Ron go like that. Hermione hoped that one day Ron would grow up enough for Harry to be able to patch things up with him, but for the moment, she knew that Harry had done the right thing. Harry had enough to be getting on with. It was going to be hard enough getting through this tournament without having to deal with jealous fair-weather friends.

Harry closed his eyes as Hermione cuddled him, and gradually drifted off to sleep.


Ron sighed miserably as he watched Harry and Hermione walking away from him. He had half expected this outcome, but he had hoped for better.
Still... after seeing the dragons, it had finally occurred to Ron that if Harry hadn’t entered himself, someone might be trying to do Harry in. Under the circumstances, Ron couldn’t really blame Harry for not easily forgiving him. Bloody hell - Ron had even compared Harry to that scumbag Malfoy! Ron kicked himself for being such an idiot, wishing that he’d been able to make Harry understand that sometimes he just couldn’t help himself.

Ron caught Ginny’s glowering eye when she huffed at him as she exited the stands with Dean. Fred snorted at Ron and shook his head, muttering “pathetic” angrily under his breath as he strode away. Ron was reasonably certain that Fred was mostly cross with him because there wasn’t much point in throwing a party in the Gryffindor common room without Harry.

George halted for a moment and raised his eyebrows at Ron, sighing, before giving him a little shrug and following after his twin. If Ron didn’t know better, he’d almost think that George was being sympathetic. Neville couldn’t look Ron in the eye when he walked past with Luna, whose expression was almost pitying.

Someone patted Ron on the shoulder. He looked around to see who it was.

“Ah... Things’ll work out eventually Ron,” said Seamus consolingly. “Leave it alone for now... Come on mate - I’ll let yeh beat me at a game of wizard chess.”

“Yeah... alright then!” Ron sighed. He gave Seamus a little half-smile, glad to at least have the company of someone who always seemed to understand him without getting all judgmental.


Harry felt much better after a nap. He heard voices, and as he woke up Harry realised that there was a cushion under his head instead of Hermione’s lap. He sat up, realising that he must have slept for several hours when he spied Hermione having tea with Parvati.
“Oh, good, you’re awake Harry!” Hermione smiled at Harry and poured him a steaming cup of tea. “Parvati was bringing back your Firebolt. I hope you don’t mind me letting her in.”

“Of course not,” said Harry, smiling back. “You’re always welcome Parvati. Where’s Lavender?” he asked before taking a sip from his teacup.

“Snogging Viktor Krum somewhere,” Parvati giggled.

Harry grinned; he glanced at Hermione, thinking that she looked rather pleased with herself. Hermione blushed when she noticed Harry’s perceptive expression.

“Er... so what did happen with Viktor and the others anyway?” Harry asked. “Is everyone alright?” He peered at Hermione anxiously.

“Everyone is fine Harry?” said Hermione quickly to put his mind at ease. “Nobody got badly hurt... Viktor just got some scrapes and bruises when he tried to escape after he used the Conjunctivitis Curse on the dragon. That’s why his dragon went berserk though - just like Professor Moody said it would - and crushed some of its own eggs.”

“Cedric got burned a bit though when he transfigured a rock into a dog,” Hermione continued, “the dragon was distracted for a moment, but then it went after him. He only just managed to snatch his egg before the dragon chased him around the arena - Cedric had to hide behind some boulders until the dragon keepers subdued the dragon.... Pomfrey fixed him up though.”

“And that French girl, Fleur, she almost got burned when she put her dragon in a sort of trance,” Parvati added. “But she managed to put the fire out quickly with water from her wand. She and Krum both tied for second place. Anyway Harry... You were amazing! That was unbelievable... How did you do that?”

Harry glanced at Hermione questioningly, assuming that she would have already told Parvati.

“I thought you should be the one to tell Parvati when you woke up,” Hermione beamed at her boyfriend with pride.

“Oh... er... alright then!” Harry smiled wryly at his girlfriend before addressing Parvati. “I used a rune set which spelled out ‘Dragon Friend’... Mind you, I didn’t know for certain that it would work - I don’t think they would have if I’d had my wand in my hand.”

“That’s why I took my cloak and shirt off and showed that I was totally unarmed,” Harry continued. “Then I bowed to show respect, like Hagrid taught us with hippogriffs last year. Dragons are a lot like people - many breeds are really smart - and they just want to be respected.”

Parvati frowned in puzzlement. “But why don’t all dragon handlers do that then?”

“Because most dragon keepers are like most other wizards,” Hermione began in her ‘schoolteacher’ voice, but there was also an edge of bitterness in her tone. “They see them as inferior creatures and they don’t actually treat dragons with the kindness or respect deserved by all sentient beings. They treat dragons as animals to be locked up in zoos, or as beasts of burden, or as enemies to be subdued...”

“Harry’s absolutely right,” Hermione went on, “The runes wouldn’t have worked by themselves. They only told the dragon that Harry was a friend. If Harry hadn’t acted like a friend - if he’d just tried to steal the egg - the dragon would have still attacked him.”

Parvati gasped in horror as the full implication of what Harry had told her sank in.

“Wait, you mean that Harry was totally unprotected then?” Parvati squeaked. “He put down his wand too?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I did use a fire protection rune-set as well... just in case. But I was still scared to death that the dragon would just eat me.”

“I can’t believe you did that Harry!” said Parvati. “That’s the bravest thing I’ve ever heard of! You could’ve been killed.”


Draco Malfoy couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. Potter had approached the dragon - unarmed - and it had just given him the egg as obediently as a dutiful puppy. Draco was very quiet as he made his way back to the Slytherin common room following the conclusion of the First Task, oblivious to the hubbub all around him.

Blaise Zabini entered the Slytherin common room and spied Draco looking lost in thought on the green sofa by the fire. He glanced at Draco’s face, which looked even pastier than usual.

“You might want to lay off Granger in the future, Draco,” said Blaise pointedly, raising his eyebrows.

Draco started, snapping out of his reverie.

“Hunh? What do you mean Blaise? Not turning into a blood-traitor are you?” he sneered.

“You should know me better than that Draco,” Zabini snorted. “Just pointing out that you probably ought to watch yourself around Potter in the future... Weren’t you paying attention?”

“Potter had a go at Weasley after he’d finished with the dragon,” Zabini continued. “I don’t think he’s going to be inclined to dole out any more second chances to people who don’t treat him or his friends right... And if he can stand up to a Dragon - unarmed - I don’t think he’s going to be put off by anything you can come up with.”

Draco flushed angrily and stalked out of the common room. Zabini smirked at Draco’s consternation; he loved getting a rise out of him. It was just too easy to provoke the smarmy little coward.

Draco heaved himself onto his four-poster bed and stared at the green and silver hangings above, nostrils flaring. For the thousandth time, he wished he’d been sent to Durmstrang where they actually taught students how to perform dark magic and curses - unlike the stupid defence stuff they did at Hogwarts. It was beginning to look like he’d have to start learning the Unforgivables on his own.


The boarded up windows of the deteriorating manor did little to muffle the screams of pain from within. But it was far enough from the village of Little Hangleton, and late enough at night, that only those brave enough to pass through the abandoned and overgrown graveyard at the bottom of the hill after midnight would hear them. A wretched Rat-like man writhed in agony on the floor of a dusty cobwebbed upstairs sitting room with peeling wallpaper.
“Master... please! I beg you... It wasn’t my fault.”

“Beg a little harder Wormtail, and maybe I’ll forgive you.”

Purple lightning arced from the oozing greyish-red homunculus swaddled in black robes on the threadbare armchair, and more shrieks of torment echoed through the once stately home. The hideous dark creature tortured Wormtail three more times before letting up. It waited several minutes for the Rat’s sobbing to subside, considering its options.

The prearranged time for Wormtail’s meeting in Hogsmeade to receive an update on the progress at Hogwarts had come and gone with no sign of Barty Crouch Junior, and the Dark Lord had grown concerned. The Dark Lord had sent Wormtail out again to glean as much information as possible, but Voldemort was most displeased with what he had learned.

“Enough, you miserable fool!” snapped the Dark Lord in a high cold tone. “Get up... Without an agent at Hogwarts I have no means to take Harry Potter’s blood for my own. Are there no others among my followers loyal enough to do my bidding?”

“My Lord,” the rodent-like man groveled, “They believe you to be dead... even Lucius... and... and my word alone will not be enough to convince them to go against Dumbledore to bring the boy to you. They follow the new Minister, and according to my sources, she has not revealed the truth of your continued existence...”

“And what of this... this new Minister... she is one of us is she not? ...a follower of Slytherin - a Dark Witch?”

“My Lord, she is...” Wormtail replied, “but the word among the Death Eaters who remain at large is that the new Minister has her own plan to restore a Pureblood Order in Britain... At one time, before she gained power, she might have joined forces with us.”

“But now...” continued the Rat, “now that she has the Ministry, all indications are that she means to keep it for herself. And as she intends to return the Ancient Houses to their former glory and reinstate the Old Ways, it is likely that very few shall move against her - perhaps even once your return has been made known to all.”

The Dark Lord cursed. He was not at full power and was not yet prepared to fight a war on two fronts. And now it seemed that he had nobody to bring him Potter. The Dark Lord was growing weary of residing in his muggle father’s decaying manor. He had been prepared to put up with it in order to see the competition at Hogwarts through, with the promise of Harry Potter at the end of it. But now that the promise appeared to be unlikely to be met, it might have to be done without the boy.

And that meant that the Dark Lord would be just as vulnerable to the boy's protections - bestowed by the Ancient Magic which had been cast by the boy’s mother in her last breaths - as he had been before. Though Voldemort had to concede that some of the other restoration rituals might prove advantageous in different ways, perhaps even giving him the power to decisively defeat the Old Fool who ran Hogwarts once and for all.

The Dark Lord decided to bide his time a short while more, and see what might come of the Second Task. The plan might be salvaged by then - it was still possible that he might find another to do his bidding and slip them through the increased security protocols at Hogwarts - but if not, the Dark Lord should be prepared to act without further delay.


Sirius and Lupin had both been delighted and astounded to hear the details of Harry’s encounter with the dragon. Harry grinned at their astonished features in his mirror.
“That is remarkable Harry - and incredibly risky! There was no guarantee that the dragon would accept you,” said Lupin, peering over Sirius’s shoulder into the mirror. “There are very few wizards - even those well-experienced with dragons - who would have dared to attempt such a thing.”

“That’s my godson for you,” Sirius beamed proudly. Lupin raised one eyebrow at Sirius with a mirthful twitch of his moustache.

“Ahem... our godson I mean,” Sirius amended himself, giving Harry a roguish wink; Hermione giggled.

“I’m glad you called, Harry,” Sirius added. “Dumbledore has banned Rita Skeeter from Hogwarts, but I’m still not sure that I would have believed the Daily Prophet’s reports. And if I know Skeeter, she’ll still find a way to muck things up...”

“In any case,” Lupin interjected. “Dumbledore and Mad Eye have been keeping us informed of your general progress, but Sirius and I are keen to keep an eye on things ourselves. We may come up to Hogwarts to watch over the next two tasks in person...”

Following the chat with Sirius and Lupin, Hermione finally managed to convince Harry that he should put in an appearance in the Gryffindor common room. And Harry was glad that she had, as Fred and George had forged ahead with party plans despite the unlikelihood of Harry showing up.

Ron looked up from the game of chess he was having with Seamus, peering wistfully at the crowd of cheering Gryffindors surrounding Harry and Hermione. Unable to help feeling another pang of jealousy, Ron took a swig of his butterbeer and resignedly returned his attention to Seamus and the game.

By the time Harry and Hermione returned to his private quarters, Harry was in the best mood he’d been in for weeks. After cleaning his teeth and changing into nightclothes, Harry cheerfully tumbled into his bed with Hermione.

Burning with ardour, their kisses grew increasingly humid, lips blazing trails across each other’s necks and faces. Hermione imagined Harry shirtless again as his caresses traveled, tingling blissfully at his every touch, showering her own intimate affections upon him. Golden strands of Hermione’s tawny hair damply clung to her pink cheeks as she gasped with passionate release in Harry’s arms.

Giddily flushing with elation, Harry fell back against his pillow panting breathlessly. Hermione lay her bushy head on Harry’s shoulder and snuggled happily under one of his arms, wondering if Harry might be ready to take things a bit further soon.

A few minutes later, still feeling a bit dazed, but quite contented, Harry finally managed to put his thoughts of Hermione in her bikini - or less - out of his head and picked up the egg from the bedside table with his free hand. He peered at it as it glinted in the flickering orange glow of the fire in the hearth, looking for the clue again.

Except for the hinge and the furrow where the two halves met, the egg was perfectly smooth, and as golden as the highlights in Hermione’s tawny-brown hair. He had opened it at the celebration in the common room after much imploring from the excited Gryffindors, but there had been nothing inside except for a horrid loud shrieking sound which reminded him of the screeching wheels of the Hogwarts Express.

“You’ve got plenty of time Harry,” said Hermione with a little giggle, pleased to see Harry’s eagerness. “You don’t have to work it out tonight. Even if it takes us until Christmas to figure out what the Clue is, you’ll still have two months to prepare for the next Task.”

“Yeah... I suppose you’re right Hermione,” Harry grinned. He set the gold egg down again and gave his girlfriend another gentle kiss. Tranquility settled over the pair of them as Harry and Hermione cuddled, and gradually they drifted off to sleep.


“Wake up Harry! Please... wake up!” sobbed Hermione.

Harry emerged from the nightmare in a cold sweat, gasping for breath, his scar on fire. Harry groaned, peering into his girlfriend’s tear-filled eyes. As bad as it was, Harry knew it would have been much worse if Hermione weren’t there. Apparently he had been thrashing around, as the bedclothes were even more tangled than when they had been snogging and messing about earlier that evening.

“Oh thank goodness... thank goodness, finally!” Hermione wrapped herself around Harry, peppering him with kisses and stroking his messy damp hair. “It seemed to go on and on... I couldn’t wake you! It was him again, wasn’t it? Voldemort!”

“Yeah...” Harry muttered, gasping as the throbs of pain ebbed, diminishing with every kiss, “ was! He was really angry... torturing Wormtail. I think he’s cross because his plan to get me failed... He’s only just found out that Crouch Junior was captured...”

“...but he’s going to try again - make a new plan, isn’t he?” said Hermione worriedly.

“Yeah, I... I think so,” Harry murmured, as he tried to remember the details. “I’m not really certain what... But whatever he does, I think he’s decided to wait a bit - to see what happens with the Second Task.”


Despite his terrible nightmare - vision - whatever - and the pain during the night, Harry felt reasonably good the next morning, far better than he had during the summer when he’d dreamed about Voldemort and Wormtail killing the old man. Harry was left only with the residual itching and occasional twinge which he had grown used to since Voldemort had returned to Britain. Hermione’s presence had made all the difference in the world, and Harry had readily agreed with her that Dumbledore needed to be told at the earliest opportunity.
Harry and Hermione caught up with the headmaster at lunchtime, and Dumbledore had invited them to dine with him in his office. Dumbledore listened intently, thanking Harry profusely when he had imparted all the information that he could recall. The headmaster stroked his long silvery beard as he watched the young pair depart his office when lunch had concluded.

Albus Dumbledore poured himself another cup of Darjeeling. He squeezed in a slice of lemon and stirred in a spoonful of honey, sighing as he considered his many layered quandary. Harry had enough to be getting on with as it was, dealing with the Triwizard tournament and his increasing workload at school. The simplest solution was simply not feasible. It was more than apparent that Harry did not have time to learn Legilimency and Occlumency at the moment.

Dumbledore spent a good long while pondering his conundrum. The only thing which was clear was that Harry’s safety was paramount, and that Hermione Granger was the key to it for the immediate future. But any decision taken now in that regard would be irrevocable - there could be no going back for Harry and Miss Granger - and it would require the express permission of Hermione Granger’s mother.

Taking some heart from Alastor’s perceptive remark the night that Harry had been chosen by the Goblet and had discovered the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, Dumbledore glanced at Fawkes and sighed again before taking up his quill and writing a letter to Mrs Granger.


“Finnegan! Weasley! Will you pay attention?”

Professor McGonagall’s sharp voice cracked like a towel snap, startling Harry and Hermione who were reviewing their work on the guinea fowl which they had just transfigured into guinea pigs.

Harry couldn’t help grinning when he saw that Seamus and Ron had been having a sword fight with a pair of the fake wands which had been invented by Fred and George, instead of correcting their mistakes. Ron’s guinea pig still had a beak, and Seamus’s looked as if it had been through a war-zone.

“Now that Weasley and Finnegan have kindly acted their age,” Professor McGonagall said acidly, “I have an announcement to make. The Yule Ball is approaching - a traditional part of the Triwizard tournament...”

Professor McGonagall launched into an explanation of what was to be expected. Ron’s face fell in horror when she got to the bit about wearing dress robes. Lavender giggled and Parvati valiantly tried to restrain herself from giggling as well; they both turned around to glance at Harry and Hermione when McGonagall made a pointed remark about the Champions opening up the Yule Ball with their dance partners.

Harry felt a wave of relief washing over him, thankful that he didn’t have to look for a date, followed immediately by a flood of trepidation at the knowledge that he would have to dance in front of hundreds of people.

“Don’t worry Harry,” Hermione whispered, giving his hand a comforting squeeze when she saw him looking like a deer caught in headlights, “I promised I could teach you how to dance, and I will.”

December had begun with another blizzard, and the snow piled even deeper outside the drafty halls of Hogwarts. Nearly everyone in Fourth Year and above had signed on to stay for Christmas, as had many hopeful Third Years.

The Professors began to decorate the castle in preparation for the upcoming festivities, going all out with their guests in mind. Everlasting Icicles were hung from the bannister of the marble staircase, suits of armour were bedecked with tinsel, bows, and red Father Christmas caps. Hagrid hauled in a dozen massive pines from the forest and Flitwick decorated them with thousands of tiny primping fairies.

When she wasn’t shivering in the corridors, unused to the cold, Fleur Delacour was haughtily waving off suitors in droves. It didn’t seem to matter that she had heeded her father’s warning not to tell anyone that she was part Veela, Fleur thought crossly. All the boys seemed to be acting like she was anyway, uninterested in who she was as a person and oblivious to anything she said, with eyes only for whichever part of her anatomy caught their fancy. Fleur rather thought that Hermione Granger was very lucky to have Harry Potter as a boyfriend, who seemed to treat her kindly.

Hermione was increasingly irritated by the girls who all seemed to be hovering in the corridors giggling coquettishly whenever Harry walked by, clearly hoping to catch him alone and be the one to convince him that it was time to move on to someone new.

She was glad that they didn’t seem to hate Harry anymore, but Hermione wasn’t certain that this was much better. Hermione wasn’t sure if they only liked Harry now because he’d successfully faced down a Hungarian Horntail, or if it was because Harry had managed to do it without his shirt on.

And Hermione wasn’t the only one who had noticed all of the positive attention that Harry was receiving from the girls at Hogwarts after winning the first round of the tournament. One afternoon, Ron and Seamus squeezed past a group of a dozen or so girls who were unabashedly ogling Harry even though Hermione was on his arm.

Hermione caught the bitter look in Ron’s eyes when he glanced at Harry, and was certain that she heard Ron mutter something like “...of course they’re queuing up for him! He’s just beaten a Hungarian Horntail!” to Seamus.

Harry sighed, spotting the flush of guilt on Hermione’s cheeks.

“Don’t beat yourself up Hermione,” Harry murmured as soon as they had managed to find a quiet, clear passage. “It’s not the same thing at all...”

“But I was feeling jealous,” said Hermione in a small voice, her head hanging down. “And I shouldn’t be, because I know you’d never do anything to hurt me!”

“Exactly!” said Harry firmly, gently cupping Hermione’s chin and lifting it so he could look her directly in the eye. “And that’s why it’s not the same - it’s not jealousy, not really... You’re not blaming me - it’s only natural that you’d feel cross with those girls for trying to waylay me when it’s perfectly obvious that we’re together.”

“Thank you Harry!” Hermione murmured gratefully, her heart fluttering as Harry took her in his arms and gave her a tender kiss.

They both gave a little start and pulled apart when echoey footsteps in the corridor indicated that they were no longer alone. Spying two very disappointed looking Ravenclaw girls turning around and going back the way they had come, Harry and Hermione couldn’t help but laugh, both of them turning slightly pink.

The weeks leading up to the Yule Ball weren’t all about dodging the girls eager to steal Hermione’s boyfriend though. There was still schoolwork to be done, and they both spent time in the library trying to find any information which might give them a clue about Harry’s Golden Egg.

Some professors like Flitwick had eased up as Christmas drew closer, even letting students play games in class during the last week before the end of term, but not all of them were so lax.

As the Skrewts were enormous and (thankfully?) too dangerous for direct contact, Care of Magical Creatures had more or less become a free period to hang out and chat with Hagrid or play in the snow for a bit. Professor Babbling had been so thrilled with Harry for showcasing the practical usefulness of Runes in the tournament that she had tried to give him a week off from homework, but she was even more impressed when Harry had insisted on keeping busy.

McGonagall and Snape weren’t having any of that nonsense though, keeping their classes’ noses to the grindstone until the very last minute. Professor Vector was just as strict, and Professor Moody would no sooner let his classes skive off than he would wear a tutu.

During their special sessions, Professor Moody had begun teaching Harry and Hermione a variety of explosive blasting spells, and kept them hard at work on their regular calisthenics, but had begrudgingly allowed Hermione to spend the daily exercise routines teaching Harry how to dance.

“I suppose it might come in handy when we begin hand to hand training after Christmas,” the grizzled ex-Auror grumbled.

Harry had been extremely nervous about learning how to dance with Hermione, certain that he was going to be the only champion with two proverbial left feet. But after three lessons in the Room of Requirement’s ballroom setting with his arm around Hermione’s waist, Harry finally began to relax and enjoy himself.

“Stop it Harry, that tickles,” the young witch giggled as Harry nuzzled her neck. “Focus on your feet and listen to the rhythm... 1, 2, 3... 1, 2, 3...”

That particular lesson came to a quick end when Harry’s lips found their way to Hermione’s. After a particularly steamy kiss, they giddily made their way to Gryffindor Tower for Hermione to collect her night things.

They arrived in the common room just in time to overhear a surly looking Ron with singed eyebrows complaining to Seamus over the smoking wreckage of a pile of Snap cards.

“...Fred’s right though, Seamus,” Ron was muttering. “All the good ones will be gone... we should get a move on. We don’t want to end up with a pair of trolls!”

“I suppose not!” Seamus sniggered.

“A pair of what?” snapped Ginny indignantly, glowering at Ron from the sofa where she was sitting with Dean, who was rolling his eyes at Seamus and Ron.

Lavender shared a disgusted look with Parvati. Hermione snorted with mirth, rolled her eyes, and shook her head as she marched upstairs for her things. Harry palmed his face, wondering if Ron would ever figure out how to talk to a girl.

“I’m glad I’m not going with either of those two thickheads,” Lavender whispered to Harry, “Viktor is really sweet.”

“What about you Parvati?” Harry asked. “Have you got a date yet?”

“My sister introduced me to Terry Boot in Ravenclaw,” Parvati replied, reddening. “I don’t really know him, but Padma says he’s alright. After the Quibbler article came out, he supported you - which is more than I can say about that creep McLaggen...”

“Cormac McLaggen?” Harry muttered, frowning. “The fifth year bloke that hangs out with Towler?”

“Yeah! He tried to ask us both out...” Parvati scowled, nodding.

“I told him I was going with Viktor Krum, then he got a bit nasty when Parvati turned him down flat too,” Lavender explained.

“He didn’t touch you, did he?” asked Harry, his face darkening. Parvati shook her head, her big limpid eyes widening.

“No, and I would’ve hexed him if he had!” she replied assertively.

“Good!” said Harry, just as Hermione reappeared with her bag. Lavender and Parvati gave Hermione and Harry both a hug, whispering goodnight.


The school term had finally ended with the arrival of the Christmas Holidays. Ron was feeling very testy when Pigwidgeon eventually returned from the Burrow with Christmas cards for all of the Weasleys. Glancing at the envelopes, he saw cards for Harry and Hermione as well. Ron scowled as the tiny owl twittered and flitted around the icicle laden bannisters attracting the giggly attention of a bunch of Third Year girls.

“Look at the weeny little owl... it’s sooo cute!” said one of the girls.

“Oooh... it’s adorable!” said another.

“Stupid feathery little git!” Ron hissed, running up the stairs and grabbing Pigwidgeon. “Just bring the letters to me! Don’t bloody hang around showing off!”

Pigwidgeon hooted cheerfully, his fluffy little head poking out of Ron’s fist. The Third Year girls all looked horrified.

“Clear off,” Ron snapped at the girls, waving the fist which held his owl and they all scurried away. Ron caught George’s expression.

“What’s your problem?” Ron sniped at George.

“You know something Ron,” said George as evenly as possible, “you’re a right idiot sometimes! And I’m telling you this for your own good, out of the kindness of my heart, because it’s Christmas... and I’m not Fred!

“It’s no wonder you can’t get a bloody date for the Yule Ball. Every single one of those Third Year girls was a potential date, and you just chased them all off. Which is probably for the best as far as they’re concerned, mind you, given your dimwittedness and your rudeness - I wouldn’t wish you on any girl until you grow up a bit... make that until you grow up a lot!

“I’ll let you think about that for a bit and work out why for yourself though... You won’t learn anything otherwise! But here’s a hint - it’s not actually all about the perfect opening the ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ little feather ball gave you - it’s more or less the same reason you couldn’t hang onto your best friend...

“Now, why don’t you give me the cards for Harry and Hermione... I’m not sure I trust you to look after them properly,” George concluded.

Ron scowled again as he handed over the cards to George, but inwardly Ron was groaning as George’s meaning became all too clear.


One of the nicest things about the Christmas Holidays was that curfew wasn’t as strictly enforced. Admittedly that was usually because there weren’t any prefects, head boys, head girls, and Aurors providing security for the Triwizard tournament hanging around. Still, the Aurors and Filch were the only ones to be concerned about, because the prefects really didn't care as it was Christmas.

As such, Harry couldn’t be happier that Hermione had been able to spend every night in his private quarters without having to worry about the possibility of anyone fussing her at Gryffindor Tower the next morning, no matter what time she rolled in. Christmas Eve had been the best one that he could ever remember having.

After hanging out for part of the day playing in the snowdrifts with Luna, Neville and the rest of their friends, and spending part of the day at Gryffindor Tower, there had been a splendid Feast in the Great Hall - with the promise of an even more magnificent one preceding the Yule Ball. Then Harry and Hermione had spent the evening snuggling by his fire and drinking cocoa as Crookshanks purred on their laps, and finally messing around in his bed before falling asleep entwined in each other’s arms.

Being awoken early on Christmas morning was the last thing that Harry had expected. Spying two goggling green eyes the size of tennis balls staring at him, Harry blinked and reached for his glasses. Hermione stirred awake with a little shriek, blushing furiously and pulling covers around herself protectively even though she was wearing her nightie.

“Blimey Dobby,” Harry groaned. “What are you doing?”

“Dobby is very sorry sir,” Dobby squeaked anxiously, his own little cheeks red with embarrassment. “Dobby is only wishing Harry Potter a Merry Christmas and bringing him a present sir. Dobby is not expecting Harry Potter’s girlfriend to be in bed with him. Dobby is very sorry to be upsetting Miss Granger...”

“It’s alright Dobby,” said Hermione, her own voice sounding a bit squeaky. “I... I’m not upset, really!” she fibbed. “M...Merry Christmas Dobby!”

“Yeah... Merry Christmas Dobby!” Harry grinned, shaking his head with amusement. “Don’t worry about it. Just try and be a bit more careful in future.”

“Dobby will sir! Dobby promises!” said the house-elf earnestly. “Dobby will be going now and giving Harry Potter and Miss Granger their privacy...”

“Hang on Dobby,” Harry interjected, reaching for a small parcel wrapped in red and green paper on his nightstand. “Here’s a little present for you... Er... Sorry... it’s not much...”

Dobby squealed gleefully as he tore through the wrapping paper, revealing a pair of purple and gold socks.

“Thank you sir! Socks are Dobby’s most favourite clothes!” the happy house-elf beamed. “How did Harry Potter know sir?”

“Er... just a guess really,” said Harry, feeling relieved that his present had been such a big hit as he unwrapped the present Dobby had given him.

A pair of knitted socks fell out of the wrapping onto the bed cover. Hermione clapped her hand to her mouth, trying to hide her laughter. One of the socks was lime green with a pattern of gold snitches, and the other was scarlet with a pattern of gold broomsticks. Dobby wept with happiness when Harry thanked him profusely and pulled the socks on over his bare feet.

Hermione was still in a fit of giggles after Dobby departed; she kissed Harry and scrambled to the end of the bed to drag their sacks full of presents up with them.

“We’re wide awake now,” she said. “We may as well open them.”

Colourful wrapping paper, sparkling bows, and shiny ribbons began to collect around the bed as Harry and Hermione opened their presents. They were pleased to find among all the presents from others that they had both received the usual assortment of sweaters and goodies from Mrs Weasley.

Harry was thrilled with the book Hermione had given him: Quidditch Teams of the World, from Albania to Zaire. Hermione pinned Harry to the bed and snogged him silly when she opened the little jewellery box containing a pair of pearl earrings which matched the necklace that he’d given her for her birthday.

They were still kissing when a flutter of wings startled them. Crookshanks - who was curled up on a cushion by the fire - purred happily to see Hedwig arriving. Hermione reached for the envelope addressed to her with trembling hands, puzzled, as she and Harry had already opened their cards from her mother.

Inside the envelope was a card wishing Hermione a Happy New Year, and when she opened the card, an official looking document fell out along with a letter. Harry gasped as Hermione unfolded the Ministry Parchment. Hermione began to breathe rapidly and she picked up the letter looking for an explanation. Harry’s face turned crimson as he read along with her.

Dear Hermione,

Please don’t be alarmed. You will always have a home with me and your aunt for as long as you wish it - I love you dearly. And our home will always be open to Harry as well. If it helps, you may think of the official copy of the Declaration of Emancipation which I signed as an extra Christmas Present.

I signed it at the behest of Headmaster Dumbledore. He came to visit me at the beginning of December, and the poor dear was as red-faced as I’ve ever seen a man to discuss the topic. I must admit that at first I was a bit reticent, but Dumbledore assured me that of all his options for protecting Harry Potter at the moment, this was the most workable.

I don’t quite understand all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know it has something to do with a sort of telepathic dream that Harry had about the dark wizard that killed his parents. Your closeness to Harry is apparently the only thing which will insulate him from certain ill effects of this telepathic connection.

Your emancipation was necessary for Dumbledore to skirt certain school policies preventing the cohabitation of students of opposite genders. You will have to speak to him for greater details, but he thought it advisable for me to contact you first. I did consult with Harry’s godfather Sirius, and he assures me that Harry is free to make his own decisions, being emancipated already, but that he is in complete agreement in any case.

I know how much you love Harry. I do too! I trust you absolutely, and know you to be as responsible as any adult - if not more-so than most. I only ask that you use caution if you engage in any intimacies, as I am much too young to become a grandmother.

Happy Christmas
Love from,

Hermione giggled nervously and peered at Harry, who was groaning and had his blazing face covered with both hands. Harry couldn’t believe that Dumbledore and Sirius had spoken to Mrs Granger about him and Hermione being “close” and engaging in “intimacies.” Harry was never going to be able to look Mrs Granger in the eye again.

Hermione’s anxiety began to grow in leaps and bounds as she watched Harry imploding from embarrassment.

“Are... are alright Harry?” she asked shakily. Hearing the fear creep into Hermione’s voice seemed to pull Harry back from the brink. Of course she would be just as nerve-wracked as him about everything. Harry didn’t want Hermione to get the wrong impression and start feeling bad.

“Er... yeah... Hermione!” he finally managed, pulling his hands away from his face. Harry gave her a shy little grin. “I’ll be fine... I swear! It... it’ll just take a bit of getting used to your mum knowing about us... er... messing around. This is brilliant... really! And... and you’ll be able to do magic outside of school whenever you want now!”


Heads turned and jaws dropped when Harry made his way down the marble staircase to the Entrance Hall with his arm around Hermione’s slender waist. Harry knew that it was because to everyone else, Hermione looked a lot less like a bushy haired bookworm, and much more like a model in her shimmering pearly evening gown. Though as far as Harry was concerned, everyone was just seeing Hermione for the first time the way he always saw her - gorgeous - and more enticing than any Veela.

Hermione’s hair was done up in a chic style, pulled to one side and only partially straightened, leaving delicate golden curls framing one side of her face and tumbling over her shoulder - which she had done because she knew Harry liked her ringlets. She wore only the barest hint of makeup, just enough to highlight her natural beauty, which was set off by the pearl necklace gracing her neck, and the pearl earrings.

Parvati waved when she spotted them enter the Great Hall. Hermione beamed back at her, mouthing the words “thank you” for helping her style her hair.

Malfoy was stunned when he saw Granger; he opened his mouth, trying to think of something rude to say, but Pansy punched him on the shoulder warningly. The last thing Pansy wanted was a repeat of their humiliating experience. Malfoy closed his mouth again, thinking better of it as Zabini’s words echoed in his mind.

Ron and Seamus were among the many gaping at Hermione when she entered the Great Hall. Ron recalled how nice Hermione’s figure had looked in that dress at the World Cup, but she looked too pretty to be Hermione - she’d done something to her hair - and her face looked different. He wouldn’t have recognised her at all if she weren’t attached to Harry’s arm.

Ron’s hungry expression turned into a scowl when he saw Harry and Hermione being beckoned to the Staff-table with the other champions and sitting next to Viktor Krum and... Lavender Brown?

“Blimey... Lavender and Krum?” Ron muttered, feeling a sudden surge of anger towards his all-time favourite Quidditch player.

Seamus appeared to be a bit taken aback as well. Like Ron, Seamus had always thought that Lavender was the prettiest Gryffindor girl in their year. Seamus had even dared to dream of plucking up the nerve to ask her to the Yule Ball before dismissing the idea out-of-hand.

Harry felt more than a bit uncomfortable sitting at the Staff-table among the other champions and their headmasters for Christmas Dinner, taking a small amount of comfort in the fact that he was not the only one at the centre of attention. Harry’s feeling of awkwardness went up a few dozen notches when he saw Dumbledore approaching the table, and he began to redden. Hermione turned pink as well when she saw the headmaster.

Dumbledore gave Harry a knowing wink and leaned over to murmur in his ear as he strode past him.

“Just do your best to enjoy yourself tonight, Harry,” Dumbledore said quietly, his eyes twinkling. “Any discussions about... things... that you and Miss Granger may wish to have with me, can take place whenever you’re feeling up to it. There is no rush - no rush at all!”

Then Dumbledore turned around to greet the others who were taking their seats at the table. There was a slight edge to Ludo Bagman’s grin when he beamed at Harry before glancing away. But the biggest surprise for Harry and Hermione both, was seeing Percy Weasley taking Crouch’s place next to Bagman.

Harry felt a sudden chill. For a moment when Harry caught Percy’s eye, he had seen a brief flicker of an expression not unlike Malfoy’s as Percy glanced at him and Hermione. Percy Weasley’s demeanor quickly shifted to one of pure smugness.

“I’ve been promoted,” Percy said before Harry could get a word in. “I’m working directly for Minister Umbridge now as her personal assistant. Crouch was taken ill, so she sent me to replace him.”

“Er... congratulations Percy!” said Harry with a stiff smile. Hermione offered her own awkward felicitation, flushing as she remembered the fight she’d had with Percy about Winky the house-elf the last time she had seen him.

All in all though, Harry and Hermione managed to enjoy the Christmas Feast, despite the odd bits of tension. Cedric and Cho both made small talk and chatted pleasantly to Harry and Hermione, giving Harry the distinct impression that they were both trying very hard to make up for Cedric’s previous behaviour. Viktor seemed to be a bit nervous, but it was obvious that he was very smitten with Lavender as they conversed.

Dumbledore engaged in a bit of witty banter with Igor Karkaroff, concluding with a little joke which made Harry snort with mirth and caused Percy to frown. Hermione thought Fleur seemed very uncomfortable with Roger Davies - the Ravenclaw Quidditch team captain. Harry noticed as well; Roger was too busy ogling Fleur to take in a word she was saying, and she didn’t seem happy about it at all. Fleur began making some mildly disparaging comments about the Christmas decorations at Hogwarts to draw Roger’s attention away from her bosom, to little avail.

Finally dinner was over, and all eyes turned to the brightly lit stage and dance floor at the far end as the lights dimmed in the rest of the Hall.

“Come on Harry,” Hermione said quietly, beaming at him as she took his hand. “It’s time to dance.”

Nervously, Harry let Hermione lead him to the dancefloor as the opening band took the stage, trying to avoid looking anyone in the eye. The Weird Sisters struck up a lilting waltz, and the champions began to dance.

Harry started to relax as other students began to join in. Dean shot Harry a thumbs up and a smirk as he waltzed by with Ginny. Luna dragged Neville from his seat, beaming radiantly at Harry and Hermione when she passed them. She giggled when Neville kept stepping on her toes and apologising.

“It’s alright Neville,” said Luna kindly, “I’m not much of a dancer either.”

Ron and Seamus hovered by the punch bowl, gawking at all the girls in evening gowns as they filed by with their dates to join the dancing. Seamus rolled his eyes when Ron kept scowling at Harry and Hermione, and Krum and Lavender. There were better things to do with their time.

“Come on mate,” Seamus snorted. “Forget about it! I’ve got a flask of Firewhiskey... Me da sent it to me in the post. Let’s go have a nip, eh!?”

That got Ron’s attention. He suddenly realised that he was wearing himself out when he should be trying to have a good time. Ron knew he only had himself to blame and that George was right, but there was nothing he could really do about it. And Seamus was right too. Ron couldn’t help feeling jealous, but he didn’t have to make things worse by moping around and letting it eat away at him. It was time to move on. Ron still had Seamus to hang out with... and Seamus had Firewhiskey!

Seamus and Ron ambled out of the foyer of Hogwarts into the courtyard. Snow crunched underfoot, but they were both dressed warmly enough. They found a bush behind a bench which hid them from prying eyes, and leaned back against the stone wall of the castle. Seamus took a hefty swig from his flask and passed it to Ron. He grinned when Ron coughed on the burning liquid.

“Blimey!” Ron gasped, “No wonder they call it Firewhiskey!” It seemed even stronger than he recalled it being at the World Cup.

“An’ there I thought yeh were an experienced drinker Ronny boy,” Seamus chuckled, “Here, have another. It’ll smooth out soon enough.”

As the pair of young wizards shared another sip from the flask, Hagrid and Madame Maxime plonked heavily on the stone bench with a slight cracking sound in front of the bush they were hiding behind. They both silently groaned when Hagrid began to whisper sweet nothings in Olympe’s gigantic ear. It looked like they might be awhile.

The lights had gone down over the dancefloor once it had filled. Harry was suddenly aware that it was a clear night outside the castle when he noticed the silvery moon and stars above in the Enchanted Ceiling. He had a strange sense of deja vu and grinned at Hermione as they gyrated slowly together, both dressed to the nines. Hermione bit her lip and fluttered her eyelashes shyly at Harry, feeling as if she had butterflies in her tummy.

Harry felt much bolder in the dim light and he held Hermione closer as they moved in time to the gentle rhythm. Hermione shivered delightedly when Harry’s lips brushed against her cheek, gradually tracing a path to her own. The world fell away and time seemed to stop. Blissful peace washed over them both as they kissed, dancing under moonlit starry skies.

Harry was startled when the lights came up as the Weird Sisters left the stage.

“Has it been a whole set already?” he asked.

“Yes... about an hour Harry,” said Hermione. “I think the next band is going to liven things up a bit. They’re supposed to be a surprise.”

Harry was stunned when a vaguely familiar looking rock band took over the stage and the Great Hall erupted into cheers. Hermione seemed equally amazed.

“Wait... is that...? It can’t be...” Harry sputtered. “I thought they were a muggle band.”

“...Siouxsie and the Banshees!” gasped Hermione.

“Oh come on...” said Fred, grinning as he spun by with Angelina, “looking like that - how could they be anything but wizards? Loads of famous Goth and Heavy Metal bands are...

“Course some of them are vampires and werewolves too,” chimed in George, who was dancing with Alicia Spinnet. “You should listen to Wizard radio more. It isn’t all rubbish like Celestina Warbeck...”

As the loud drums and screechy guitars rocked the Great Hall, Albus Dumbledore started to tap his toes and nod his head, his eyes twinkling merrily. It had been nearly two decades since he had frequented muggle nightclubs in London with his on again/off again partner Elphias, but perhaps Albus wasn’t so old after all. Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at Professor McGonagall and held out his hand. Minerva pursed her lips and shook her head disapprovingly.

“I’ll take this dance, Albus,” giggled Madam Pomfrey as she took his hand instead.

Finally rising from the stone bench after a long snog, Olympe stumbled and giggled when Hagrid caught her. The two drunk boys hiding in the bushes behind them breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the two half-giants headed back to the Ballroom.

Thankfully the magical properties of firewhiskey had protected Ron and Seamus from the freezing night. And fortunately for Ron and Seamus, they had arrived just in time to see Siouxsie and the Banshees perform.

Shortly after midnight the Yule Ball was brought to a close. Sweat dripped from Harry’s forehead as he threw back one last glass of punch. Hermione giggled, dabbing her own wet cheeks with a napkin.

The Gryffindor Common Room filled as Fred and George’s after-party kicked into gear. Ron and Seamus were too smashed though, and staggered up the stairs to the dormitory to sleep it off. Giddily, Harry and Hermione made their way back to his quarters, waving off Fred and George’s invitation to stay.

Hermione leaned against the wall of the corridor tipsily as Harry fumbled with the lock on the door to his chambers. Suddenly realising what must have happened, Hermione thought she ought to have a little chat later with the Twins about why spiking a punch bowl intended for use by everyone was more than a bit irresponsible. But in the meantime, nobody had come to any harm, and she was feeling pleasantly tingly.

Grinning from ear to ear, Harry locked the door behind him and picked Hermione up, carrying her to the settee in the sitting room, kissing every inch of her face as she giggled madly. Harry gently lay Hermione down on the settee and flung his dress robes over an armchair before tugging off his black bow tie. Hermione’s eyes widened when Harry took off his white dress shirt and tossed that on the armchair as well.

She couldn’t help licking her lips at the sight of Harry’s bare torso, the sheen of dampness highlighting his rippling abdomen. Hermione felt hot and giddy, trapped in her ball-gown. She stood up again and began tugging at her pearlescent dress, giggling when she remembered the zipper. Hermione turned around as Harry approached.

“Can you give me a hand please Harry?” she murmured hopefully.

Despite himself, and the heady rush of pleasure coursing through him, Harry halted suddenly, gulping, wondering how far they were going to go this time.

“Are... are you sure Hermione?”

“I’ve never been more sure about anything!” Hermione said firmly, her pulse racing.

“Al...alright then,” Harry murmured, kissing the side of Hermione’s neck as his slightly shaking fingers unzipped her dress, exposing the bare skin of her back.

Hermione’s pearly ball-gown slid to the floor and pooled at her feet. Hermione turned around and Harry’s breath caught to see so much more of Hermione’s enchanting figure for the first time. The yearning was too strong and they fell into each other’s arms, connecting as never before, lips fervently engaged in a deep steamy kiss.

Sensing Harry’s rising passion as one of Harry’s hands pressed into the small of her back and the other tangled in her golden locks, Hermione was so thrilled that Harry finally felt comfortable enough to take the next step that she decided not to be too hard on Fred and George about spiking the punch bowl...
Sign up to rate and review this story